6:20 a.m. I walk along the now-well-defined path through my neighbor's alfalfa. It is calf high but I'm headed to a hill top where the soil is thinner and the alfalfa short enough to display my decoys.
6:22 a.m. I stop to admire my full-bodied decoys silhouetted against a rose-colored dawn. I want to capture that in a photograph with my fancy digital camera but I can't figure out how to disable the automatic flash and extend the exposure time. Too much tool, not enough carpenter.
6:30 a.m. I am ready now in a blind tucked behind the first row of eight-foot-tall corn. My covert includes waist-high burlap with shortened corn stalks weaved throughout. My dad's old Remington Model 58 stands ready, loaded with triple B's. I have twelve oversized decoys set with sentinels left and right. I have killed many geese with this set up but not this year. I wonder if the new law allowing hunting over water has been a game changer.
6:40 a.m. The sky is alive now with pre-sunrise colors. Lacy cirrus above cottonball cumulus. Virga leaks out of impossibly small clouds.
6:52 a.m. I spot what I think is a high-flying single. It turns out to be a Delta 737 climbing out for Chicago or beyond.
6:58 a.m. My neighbor's coon dog howls come floating in from a mile away on a northeast breeze. I momentarily mistake them for a goose. I am definitely, um, goosie.
7:11 a.m. Road noise from a county highway a half-mile away is constant. It robs from my concentrated listening for a goose. Where the rubber meets the road comes to mind. As does a favorite description of corporate HQ folks in my old job: where the rubber meets the sky.
7:25 a.m. Prime time for early-season goose activity. A flock of twenty approach low from the north. I send out a welcoming ka-honk on my Ken Martin call. They acknowlege my spread and my call with excited honking, wings set. They float over not 20 feet above. I make a snap decision to let them circle and approach into the wind. Astonishingly, they continue south out of sight. Bad decision!
7:41 a.m. A goshawk sends me to my seat. Every motion is a goose to my jacked-up senses. The goshawk works the hayfield for a mouse breakfast with his familiar flap, flap, flap, soar flying. A kestral screams by the hawk narrowing missing a mid-air collision. I watch an aerial dogfight over hunting rights.
7:50 a.m. A pair of Canada's approaches from on high, wings set. They are murmuring indicating they are committed to joining their plastic friends. I rise, lead the front bird and miss. A second, panicky shot. And a hail Mary third. They veer south using the wind to help their escape. I leap onto a rickety blind chair to watch them over the corn, hoping for delayed mortality, lose my balance and fall into a heap on the ground. I quickly look around to see who might have witnessed this dismal display of shooting and balance. My labrador gives me a bored glance. He's seen this act before.
8:01 a.m. A single circles my spread three times before committing. We exchange many greeting calls. He finally sails in directly over my head. I make an impossible skeet center station shot. Doc waits for the "get back" command and bounds to the goose. I am thankful for the second chance, the goose meat and the morning.